Cord blood leptin and insulin-like growth factor levels are independent predictors of fetal growth

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Feb;86(2):935-8. doi: 10.1210/jcem.86.2.7217.


The insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system is the dominant endocrine regulator of fetal growth, whereas insulin has a permissive role. Although a role for leptin in fetal growth has been suggested recently, the mechanism by which leptin may be related to fetal growth is not known; but leptin may interact with the IGF system in utero as it does in the extrauterine life. In the context of a hospital-based case control study, we collected anthropometric and demographic data and measured serum leptin, IGF-I, IGF-II, insulin, cortisol, and IGF binding protein 3 concentrations in 142 cord blood samples from full-term deliveries. Cord leptin, IGF-I, and insulin levels correlated positively with birth weight (r = 0.46, r = 0.41, and r = 0.21, respectively, P < 0.01) by univariate analysis and were significantly higher in large-for-gestational-age (LGA) infants, compared with appropriate-for-gestational-age (AGA) infants. Cord leptin concentrations correlated with insulin levels (r = 0.36, P < 0.01) but not with IGF-I levels (r = 0.20). Multiple linear and logistic regression analysis demonstrated an independent positive relationship of both leptin and IGF-I with birth weight and AGA/LGA status. The positive association of leptin levels with birth weight and AGA/LGA status cannot be attributed to IGF-I. This suggests the existence of alternative mechanisms underlying leptin's associations with fetal growth that should be further explored.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Birth Weight*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development*
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Infant, Newborn / blood*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / blood*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / analysis*
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3
  • Leptin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II
  • Hydrocortisone